Old Friends founder wins UofL’s Galbreath Award

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    Silver Charm arrives at Old Friends through the efforts of Michael Blowen and Sandy Hatfield of Three Chimneys Farm (shown).

    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville College of Business Equine Industry Program has named Old Friends Thoroughbred Retirement sanctuary founder Michael Blowen the winner of the 2018 John W. Galbreath Award for Outstanding Entrepreneurship in the Equine Industry.

    Blowen, a retired Boston Globe movie critic and arts journalist, established Old Friends in 2003 and, ironically, the first big name Thoroughbred entrusted to his care was Sunshine Forever, who had been owned and beloved by Galbreath.

    A facility devoted solely to retired Thoroughbreds without bells and whistles to interest tourists “was an unproven idea … and skeptics predicted it wouldn’t work,” said attorney Milton C. Toby in his nomination letter for Blowen. “They were wrong.”

    “I am flabbergasted,” Blowen said, “especially when I think that John Galbreath’s own Sunshine Forever helped me build a foundation for success. I had a simple idea and I was always surprised someone else hadn’t done it before me. This award reinforces our belief at Old Friends that aftercare is an important part of racing.”

    The Galbreath Award has been given annually since 1990 to honor entrepreneurial leadership that has had a significant and positive impact on the equine industry. Galbreath was the visionary owner of Darby Dan Farm in Lexington and a former Churchill Downs chairman who distinguished himself as both a businessman and a horseman.

    Today, Old Friends has a main facility in Georgetown, Kentucky, and two satellite facilities. It is unusual in that it accepts retired stallions. The organization has grown from a leased paddock and one horse to a 236-acre farm, a herd of over 200 rescued and retired horses, and the two satellite facilities: Old Friends at Cabin Creek just outside of Saratoga, New York, and Old Friends at Kentucky Downs in Franklin, Kentucky.

    “Michael Blowen represents everything the Galbreath Award celebrates,” said Sean Beirne, director of the equine program. “He saw an opportunity to showcase Thoroughbreds in their twilight years and let them continue to thrill their fans in a unique way. UofL is proud to acknowledge his achievements.”

    A dinner in Blowen’s honor is scheduled for Jan. 16, 2019 at the University Club. For further information, call 502-852-7617 or email equine@louisville.edu.

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    Janet Cappiello covers the College of Business, the J.B. Speed School of Engineering, the College of Education and Human Development, the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies, Sustainability Council and military initiatives for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since March 2014.